Leadership is not learned in Utopia. Rather, it is learned from challenges such as - having to make difficult decisions within complex and ambiguous situations, working with and among difficult people, and learning how to manage imperfect situations.
The world is in an astounding state of complexity regarding the peoples of the earth and governments trying to succeed and survive. The sophistication of the computer promotes learning while at the same time enables the violent. Today’s leaders must balance dilemmas. We must get past the basic question of – “What is leadership? There arise more thought-provoking questions, such as:
• What kind of leadership is required that will bring the people of the earth into a mutual relationship instead of aggression?
• Is a leader’s mental and emotional toughness related in to doing the correct and difficult thing, and not do the simple or ordinary thing?
• What skills and strategies are essential to the making of an excellent leader?
• What are the needed characteristics of a leader in a world that is prone to fight rather than peacefully co-exist?
• How do leaders rise above partisan politics, corporate greed, and one-dimensional thinking?
I agree that these are not trouble-free questions. Certainly these are but a few of the questions that need to be asked. However, these questions can start a conversation.
My idea on leadership and management has evolved amongst my years of leading as well as studying others' leadership ideas. It is my conclusion that thinking globally will supply the profound insights and solutions needed in today’s world. I propose that excellent leadership depends upon the ability to frame issues correctly – that is, to answer the question: “What is really going on?” The world needs leadership that will do business candidly with its populace rather than aimless political game-playing.
Excellent leadership is many things – among them: the courage to act when it is unpopular to do so; the integrity to inspire followers to follow; the discipline to do what needs to be done; the self-knowledge that results in being authentic and genuine; a grasp of the situation within which they lead; respect for others of different viewpoints, and much more. My question is, “Where are we developing such characteristics required to raise such a leader?” My answer begins with three core characteristics of leadership:
1. Self-control demands not allowing the internal, self-imposed triggers of our human nature to release the dark-side of our mind - such as imagined and not actual terror, a deficit of self-confidence, or a cynical viewpoint. Self-control is the first step in emergent leaders who will exhibit excellent judgment; wield the power of humility; to single out an exceptional mind by means of level-headedness; and shaping the world with excellent wisdom.
2. Emotional-maturity demands that we not allow others’ emotional and psychological behaviors to distract us from our goal. It requires that we withstand others' aggression and anger (which are two of the most contagious human behaviors) and not allow others to entangle us in their contagious behaviors. This implies that we have control over our emotional maturity. This is a demanding characteristic, but a necessary characteristic if one aspires to excellent leadership.
3. De-personalize: Most everything that others say and do is about them and not about us. I suggest the mantra _ “this is not about me.” Leaders must place the responsibility for others’ behavior onto where it belongs – onto them. This means that a leader cannot afford to personalize criticisms, disapproval, and assaults that come with the leadership label.
The leaders’ most important asset is their self. Self is all that a leader has to work with. The extent to which a leader becomes the master of them self is the extent to which they maximize their leadership.
How is excellent leadership developed?
My answer involves the time-tested process that includes demanding and persistent mentors, the generous ‘hammering” of daily experiences, instructive guidance, and thoughtful solitude.
Leadership is not easy. But who ever suggested that it would be?
• The legacy you leave is the life you lead. Not your words alone.
• Leadership is the practice of overcoming adversity, managing uncertainty, enduring hardship, expecting disruption, the staying power to get back up and to recover, the stamina to initiate new beginnings, the ability to change and adapt, and the realism to know what to do amid unjust situations.
• Only challenge produces the opportunity for leadership. Sometimes we choose the challenge; sometimes it chooses us.
• A challenge is the opportunity for our excellence to display itself. It is our response to challenge that determines the outcome of our leadership and the impact of our lives.
• Challenge is what turns ordinary women and men into extraordinary leaders. The question is – will we be prepared to lead when the challenge presents itself?
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